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Old 02-05-2013, 08:49 PM   #1
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Safe Spring Temps

Another newbie question...

This is my first spring with an RV, and, as a college professor, I am looking forward to early March spring break. I have winterized my 2010 Airstream Interstate but would need to get it ready for travel.

I would need to park it overnight in my driveway after summer prep is finished and before heading to Florida. What temps are acceptable and what is just too cold to be safe?

How can I keep it safe for one or two nights?
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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I would think you could do all the summer prep except anything water related.
I blow out my water lines and add rv-anti-freeze to them as well as to the holding tanks.
I would prep everything else, then wait untill I got into warmer weather to flush out the water lines.
Although I wouldn't want to, rv-anti-freeze is safe to drink. So if I could not flush well, I would use that water for everything except drinking.
I bring bottled water camping anyway for drinking and cooking.
Then on the return to colder weather, drain the water and add anti-freeze if the forecast was for below freezing.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:32 PM   #3
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Vincennes is pretty far south. Watch the forecast, drain the AF but don't flush until you are comfortable that you won't see freezing temps before/during your departure. The night before, even if it gets down to the mid-upper 20's, flush the lines and sanitize the tank/lines. FILL the fresh water tank with warm water and run the furnace all night with the cabinets which expose plumbing open. The mass of the full tank of warm water + the heat circulated won't allow freezing overnight.

If the forecast is for hard freezing even during your first day of travel, follow tiger's advice.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa9zz View Post
I would need to park it overnight in my driveway after summer prep is finished and before heading to Florida. What temps are acceptable and what is just too cold to be safe?
In your driveway:
As long as you can plug in to shore power, even if it's only 20-amp service, you can run the tank heaters. Don't run the tank heaters on battery power; you'll deplete the house batteries stony dead in four hours or less. With the tank heaters on, you can dewinterize and not worry about it. There's no tank heater on the black tank, but that tank is located inside, where it's warmed by the furnace. However…

In transit:
Before you go, you can drain out any antifreeze in the system; dry pipes and tanks won't freeze. Best to keep the freshwater tank empty until you reach the warmer southern states. Carry bottled water (bottle your own tapwater for flushing the toilet rather than buying bottled water) instead. As noted above, the black tank is inside the coach, so if it's warm enough for you, it's warm enough for the black tank, meaning you can at least use the toilet in transit. Waterless antibacterial soap eliminates the need for washwater, and if you don't cook in your unit until you get someplace warm, you've got no dishes to wash, either. This means that your gray tank will still be empty, too.

At the campground:
If you connect to municipal water, you don't even need to fill the fresh tank or run the pump. The city water connection is "downstream" of the fresh tank.

Before returning home:
Drain all the tanks. Open the low-point drains to drain the water lines. Blow out the lines. Drain the water heater as per the operator's manual instructions. Add antifreeze to the gray and black tanks, which seldom drain completely.

When pumping out the holding tanks:
Reel out all of the discharge hose, even if the dump point is closer than the length of the hose. The way the hose from the macerator pump is coiled on a reel, water can be trapped in the coiled hose if any is left on the reel when you pump out.

Handy hint:
Take advantage of having six gallons of hot water in your water heater. Shut off the water heater's heating element, then run all of your hot water out through the handheld shower head into the toilet before emptying the black tank. Adding hot water to the black tank will help soften the stool so that the macerator pump doesn't have to work as hard to break it up. You'll still have to drain six gallons of water from the water heater afterwards, but it will be cold water that you didn't waste energy heating.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa9zz View Post
Another newbie question...

This is my first spring with an RV, and, as a college professor, I am looking forward to early March spring break. I have winterized my 2010 Airstream Interstate but would need to get it ready for travel.

I would need to park it overnight in my driveway after summer prep is finished and before heading to Florida. What temps are acceptable and what is just too cold to be safe?

How can I keep it safe for one or two nights?
Depending on what the temps are when you leave, and what you are driving into, you could dewinterize once you get farther south. This is what we do, usually leaving in January. (still here, til next week sometime)

We dump and flush at the first full hookup site, taking a few gallons of bottled water with us for coffee, the dog, etc.

Where did you decide to stay on the Gulf?


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Old 02-06-2013, 08:13 AM   #6
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I spent a week in Vincennes once!

We often de-winterize in March without a problem. However, even if it does get below freezing in March around here (rare), it doesn't stay there during the day, so it's not a problem. It really depends on what weather you have there in March.

If it is too cold, the other option, if it's short term, would be to just run the furnace. It'll be fine.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:46 PM   #7
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I froze both holding tanks on my motorhome on April 30th 1992 after a trip to Arkansas. We had a blizzard and a foot of snow.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:43 PM   #8
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This is our 2nd winter with our Interstate. It has never been winterized. I did find indoor storage for it the one time we experienced single digit temps. Last winter I kept a space heater in it running on a low setting any time it got below freezing and had the propane furnace set to come on if the cabin temp got below 50 degrees. This winter I've done away with the space heater, if it's going to drop below freezing I set the furnace to 55 degrees and all is well ... the propane lasts a surprisingly long time too. I have a temperature sensor shoved down by the pipes below the rear couch. I've found that with the cup holders removed to let some warm air into that space the under-floor temps are about 10 degrees less than the in-cabin temps ... so with the furnace set to 55 the underfloor temps where the water lines cross the cabin to the shower and toilet stay in the mid fourties. That's with out door temps down into the high teens. I remove the lower drawer under the sink and open the uppers to let warm air into that area and I prop the bathroom door open so the heat can get in there as well. I have not had any problems but YMMV.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa9zz View Post
This is my first spring with an RV, and, as a college professor, I am looking forward to early March spring break. I have winterized my 2010 Airstream Interstate but would need to get it ready for travel.

I would need to park it overnight in my driveway after summer prep is finished and before heading to Florida. What temps are acceptable and what is just too cold to be safe?

How can I keep it safe for one or two nights?
I recommend that, beginning 10 days before your trip, you start checking the Weather Channel Online 10-day forecasts for your area, to see what kind of overnight low temperatures you can expect. Do the same for your destination. Then you can make an informed decision as to when (and where) to flush out the antifreeze and disinfect your tanks, with some level of confidence that nothing will freeze.

Based on the Weather Channel Online monthly forecasts (which give average highs and lows by day) for Vincennes, IN, you're probably safe enough beginning around February 28th. From then on, the average overnight low in Vincennes is 28°F or higher. Chances are that it won't stay cold enough, long enough, for anything to freeze even if you don't use a heater. But those are just averages, so checking the 10-day forecast, starting 10 days from your planned departure date, is definitely preferred.

I check the Weather Channel Online forecasts for my destination beginning 10 days before ANY planned trip, partly so I know what clothes to pack, and partly so that if the weather is predicted to be nasty, I can cancel my reservation in plenty of time and pick another destination.

It's not foolproof; my Mardi Gras trip to Lake Bruin State Park, St. Joseph, LA was wall-to-wall c-c-c-cold rain even though the Weather Channel Online predicted at least a day and a half of good kayaking weather, but at least the temperature predictions were spot-on.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:10 AM   #10
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I got a little behind my winterizing schedule here in Portland and we had almost a week of mid 20's temperature. Normally a day or two isn't a problem, but more than 3 days can be. I took the AS out of outdoor storage to my shop so I could blow out the lines and empty the freshwater tank. I caught it just in time as the lines were almost frozen and only a dribble came out of the faucets. I was able to get everything flowing and then used a air fitting to blow them out.
Now we are on our way back from the Mardi Grais Airstream Rally. On the way there going thru New Mexico and Arizona, we got some snow and night temps in the low teens. We used two electric heaters and kept the bath and kitchen cabinets open at night with no problems at all.
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